Last week, the Buffalo Sabres saw a 3-0 third period lead slip away thanks to sloppy penalties and poor decision making. The refrain from the locker room was about “learning to win” together, but it seemed hollow after a crushing loss.
One week later, the Sabres have taken two 3-0 leads in the third period, and have won those two games by a combined score of 6-1 thanks to tonight’s 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
The Sabres jumped out to an early lead thanks to Kyle Okposo and Brian Gionta, who scored first period goals just two minutes apart. Okposo would add his second of the game, and fourth of the season, in the second period to give the Sabres their second 3-0 lead in as many days.
A Jets goal in the third period from Nikolaj Ehlers would normally be cause for worry, but the Sabres responded very well immediately following the Winnipeg goal, and kept the pressure on until the final minutes, when penalties from Bogosian and Foligno forced them back into their own end.
Aside from missing an empty Winnipeg net six times, this was a very strong game from the Sabres, especially taking their schedule into account. Nick Baptiste looked good filling in for Deslauriers, Lehner played a strong 60 minutes, their top line continued to produce, and Buffalo sealed the deal in the third period.
Last week was a lesson in learning to win. This weekend, the Sabres took those lessons to heart and came away with four big points.
1. Can Robin Lehner match the strong effort from Anders Nilsson in his return?
Indeed he did - 37 saves on 38 shots counts as a strong effort in my book, and Lehner looked very good in his return from illness. His positioning, his patience, and his rebound control were all excellent tonight, and the only goal he allowed was a gimme for Winnipeg.
2. How will the Sabres handle the quick turnaround from yesterday’s game and travel?
Buffalo played a great game considering they were on the wrong end of a back-to-back and were traveling across the country. These are the kind of games that playoff teams win, so it was nice to see two consecutive strong efforts on two consecutive days from the blue and gold.
3. Will the Sabres shut down Patrick Laine?
Laine got four shots on goal, but was held point-less by Robin Lehner and the Sabres defense. Lehner made an especially flashy glove save on a Laine shot to preserve the lead.
Comment of the Game
Lehner looks good
O(k)pie and Ristolainen lookin fantastic.
Still think they force the stretch pass a bit much. Leads to a lot of icings and DZone face offs.
This has been real refreshing though.